I was struck by the conclusion to the Compass pamphlet:
Meanwhile, the public are unlikely to be enthusiastic when faced with an overall record of running down the state to the levels that made voters so willing to embrace New Labour in 1997 after nearly two decades of slash and burn.Was the state run down in the Thatcher and Major years? A briefing produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies for the 2005 gives the true figures:
During Margaret Thatcher’s premiership public spending grew in real terms by an average of 1.1% a year, while during John Major’s premiership it grew by an average of 2.4% a year.The fact that such increases feel like a policy of slash and burn to social liberals suggests that there is a problem with their views. As I have argued before, they need to think harder, not about their differences for the Conservatives, but about what differentiates social liberalism from socialism.